In McMinn’s 1996 book Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality in Christian Counseling, the author goes into detail about the theoretical and technical applications and interventions involved in the practice of counseling from a Christian perspective. McMinn discusses bringing religion into the counseling office. He asserts that religion is always addressed in counseling, in a variety of ways. Religion is either presented as a negative force which should be removed from a client’s life, as a positive force in which God is a helpful support in the life of the client, or as a negative force in which religion takes on a shaming role.
McMinn calls the reader’s attention to the psychological and spiritual health of the client as being interwoven. From a Christian perspective, psychological and spiritual health is a given, an essential gift from God, and it is up to the client with the help of the counselor to find the path towards recognizing and appreciating spirituality as an element of psychological health. Prayer serves to bring God closer to people personally, and clients can be aided in their goal to reach spiritual enlightenment by praying to God to help them find solutions.
Scripture can also be helpful in the lives of people wanting to find a deeper meaning and purpose in their lives, as the path to happiness is clearly explained within the Bible. However, it is not always appropriate to discuss religious ideals with clients. It should be up to the client whether or not he or she feels comfortable discussing particular aspects of religion. Although people are disturbed by sin, suffering from personal decisions to break away from God, it is important to recognize that sin can only be overcome by acts of love and kindness.
Recognizing sin is important, but it is not up to counselors to point out the sins of their clients, and it does not serve any purpose for clients to fall into the gloom of guilt and shame. In regard to the benefits of confession, it can be immensely helpful and relieving to share one’s sins with another person, to give voice to the things one has done wrong. However, it is also important to forgive and move forward in figuring out ways to make amends and rectify the situation as best as possible.
McMinn covers all of the basics in regard to how counselors should and need to address psychology, theology, and spirituality in Christian counseling. Religion is always a topic of any counseling session, and it is up to the counselor to decide the best ways in which to address the ways in which God is present in the lives of clients. McMinn offers a wide range of ideas and suggestions in response to people who are searching for an answer about how to address Christianity in the counseling office. Response
In reading McMinn’s chapter entitled Toward Psychological and Spiritual Health, I was reminded of one of my own road trips with my family as a child. My sisters and I were making too much noise in the back of the van, and my father pulled over, opened the back of the van, and slapped me, shouting at us to be quiet. This is one of my most disturbing memories, and it made a profound impact on my life. Having experienced a situation such as this was a learning experience for me, and it took a while for me to wrap my mind around the fact that I was not guilty, my father was.
My father was the one who sinned, not I. He was the one who was raising me, and he made mistakes. It was wrong of him to yell, to hit, to manage his own anger so poorly and to react to me in violence. I think it’s important that sin be treated seriously, as it is an act which fragments tender social and familial relationships. I think that it is important to feel remorse about sinful situations and to regard the incidents with honesty. As a child, I felt guilty, as if I did something wrong.
I carried this guilt, which was also sinful, into my life as a young adult, until I finally recognized that I was not to blame. My father was the one to blame. And now, I feel comfortable in knowing what is wrong and right for me as a parent. I feel liberated by seeing the sinful situation clearly and through forgiveness of both my father and myself. I forgive him for hitting me, for yelling at me, and I forgive myself for feeling guilty and ashamed for so long for something which was not my fault.
Reflection In reflecting on McMinn’s book, I think it is highly important for Christian counselors to keep in mind the importance of attributing sin to the precise people and situations. McMinn addresses how it is important to regard oneself with respect to one’s own sins. However, given the relational nature of human social interaction, it is highly significant to discuss the ways in which the sins of others have an affect on the personal lives of clients.
Many people have problems in their lives, and many times, people are feeling guilty and ashamed, down trodden and helpless, because of the sins of other people (Isay, 2008). It is important for counselors to see the world clearly, especially the ways in which family relationships create specific relational responsibilities. One of the most important elements of the counseling relationship is to help clients figure out how sin, personal sin and sins of other people, are affecting their lives. Without being precise about who, what, where, and when sin has occurred, there can be no honest step forward into forgiveness.
Action In my own professional life as a Christian counselor, I want to be able to help people to honestly be able to recognize and attribute sin to the problems in their lives, whether the sin is their own or the sin of another person. Most problems in the world are relational, and it is nearly impossible to consider oneself outside of the realm of how one is relating to others. I want to be helpful in asking questions and guiding clients in their search to figure out the ways in which sins are affecting their lives.
When the sins of the client and the other people in the client’s life are clearly described and honestly voiced by the client, only then it will be possible for the client to move forward in forgiveness and reconciliation, and be enabled to move closer in a relationship with God. References Isay, J. (2008). Walking on Eggshells: Navigating the Delicate Relationship between Adult Children and Parents. Random House, Inc. McMinn, M. (1996). Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality in Christian Counseling. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
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